In Wash­ing­ton, 3 wed­dings (whew!) and a shut­down

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - CYRIL JULIEN

There doesn’t seem to be much love in the air in Wash­ing­ton these days, as a long and bit­ter gov­ern­ment shut­down drags on with no end in sight. But cou­ples whose mar­riage plans were thwarted by the par­tial shut­down have got­ten a break, thanks to the ac­tion of Mayor Muriel Bowser and city coun­cil. The city’s Mar­riage Bureau, part of the US cap­i­tal’s fed­er­ally funded court sys­tem, had been deemed “nonessen­tial” and shut­tered as part of the thorny stand­off be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and con­gres­sional Democrats.

But on Fri­day, Bowser signed an emer­gency mea­sure au­tho­riz­ing city of­fi­cials to val­i­date mar­riages in the ab­sence of the Mar­riage Bureau, which closed when the bud­get stand­off be­gan on De­cem­ber 22.

“They can shut­down the US gov­ern­ment, but they can­not shut­down love in the Dis­trict of Columbia,” City Coun­cil mem­ber Bran­don Todd said when he in­tro­duced the mea­sure.

Ti­tled the Let Our Vows En­dure Emer­gency Amend­ment Act, or LOVE act, the law is valid for 90 days and will spare fu­ture brides like Claire O’rourke from find­ing them­selves in Kafkaesque sit­u­a­tions.

“Prac­ti­cally, we couldn’t sign all the le­gal cer­tifi­cates dur­ing the shut­down with­out hav­ing a mar­riage li­cence,” O’rourke, a Wash­ing­to­nian who was pre­par­ing to wed fi­ance Sam Bock­en­hauer, said.

“So we were go­ing to have a won­der­ful party, of course, but couldn’t be le­gally mar­ried in DC un­til we got our mar­riage li­cence.”

Some cou­ples, like Dan Pol­lock and Danielle Geana­copou­los, had no time to spare. They man­aged to get their wed­ding li­cence on De­cem­ber 27, just two days be­fore their sched­uled wed­ding.

“By the time we fig­ured out we couldn’t get a li­cence, we were run­ning out of time be­fore friends and fam­ily were com­ing to Wash­ing­ton to cel­e­brate with us,” Geana­copou­los said. “So we fo­cused on the re­ally im­por­tant thing — cel­e­brat­ing — and de­cided to fig­ure out the rest later.” Her mother, Daphne, said she was “de­lighted.” “We had a re­ally great big wed­ding two weeks ago... (but) it feels won­der­ful to have it of­fi­cial.”

For Caitlin Wal­ters, who plans to wed Kirk Kasa on Fe­bru­ary 2 on the cam­pus of Catholic Univer­sity, the shut­down was sim­ply “a small speed bump in the road.”

“Ob­vi­ously we knew about the shut­down, but we didn’t know it would di­rectly af­fect our abil­ity to get mar­ried in DC le­gally,” said Wal­ters, a New York res­i­dent.

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